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Nova Stilo: 1. The Alphabet

2021-10-08 7 min read Nova marco
Nova, the new style for Esperanto, starts out with a change in the way the language is written. As many know, Esperanto uses the Latin alphabet with a set of diacritics (marks on regular letters). Of the 26 ASCII / English letters, Esperanto uses A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V Z, but not Q W X Y. The letters C G H J S come with a diacritic variant, a circumflex or hat : Ĉ Ĝ Ĥ Ĵ Ŝ. In addition, the letter U comes with a variant that has a breve: Ŭ. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 10. Reflexives

2021-10-08 2 min read Nova marco
A feature that Esperanto inherited from European languages is the reflexive. If an action is performed on the actor him/her/itself, a special pronoun is used. In English, that pronoun is the personal pronoun plus the ending “-self,” in Esperanto it’s the regular pronoun. The exception in Esperanto is with the third person singular, in which case a special pronoun is used, “si”. Some languages, instead, use a mode of the verb to indicate reflexive use, most notably Latin. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 11. Simplification

2021-10-08 4 min read Nova marco
Esperanto has accumulated some cruft over the years, and Nova wants to make things simpler. While the remainder of the changes is systematic, some of them are piecemeal and require simplification word by word. There are four main areas in which this simplification occurs: Simplification of grammatical structures that come from a specific language. For instance, the form "ju pli... des pli..." from German "je mehr... desto mehr..." is simplified. In Nova, you can use either "yu" or "des" in both cases, or leave them both out entirely. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 12. Uppercase

2021-10-08 3 min read Nova marco
Does anyone really need capital letters? Of course not, language is readable with or without. Still, it’s odd how alien a language looks like just because it capitalizes differently. Lojban, the logical language, decided to entirely do without capitals and that just looks odd. At the same time, there are languages like German that make correct capitalization a cornerstone of their grammar. School children all over the world despair at figuring out which of the many conflicting capitalization rules applies. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 2. The Accusative

2021-10-08 6 min read Nova marco
To distinguish subject and object in a sentence, Esperanto uses the accusative case. The accusative is marked by adding the ending -n to a word (noun, adjective, adverb). Since the word itself indicates its function in a sentence, word order is free. The sentences “mi amas vin,” “vin mi amas,” “mi vin amas,” “amas mi vin,” all mean “I love you.” In fact, stringing the three words “mi,” “vin,” and “amas” in any order always creates a valid sentence that always means “I love you. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 3. The Article

2021-10-08 4 min read Nova marco
In the beginning, Esperanto had two articles. The definite article ’la’, which is still with us, and the indefinite article, for which Esperanto borrowed the word for ‘one,’ ‘unu.’ After a while, people started dropping the indefinite article entirely. When it was felt necessary or useful, one would use the word ‘iu,’ which means ‘some.’ That the definite article stayed has good reasons, because it helps identify something as specific instead of generic. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 4. The Plural

2021-10-08 4 min read Nova marco
In Esperanto, substantives and adjectives agree on number and case. “Oni ŝatas grandajn bluajn ĉielojn” - “One likes big blue skies.” This allows moving adjectives from their substantives for poetic effect and makes it easier to see which substantive an adjective belongs to. The downside (as in the sentence above) is a series of words with similar (or identical) endings. Worse than just a sound issue, though, Esperanto borrows this feature from languages that share it, like German and Russian. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 5. Gender

2021-10-08 10 min read Nova marco
For all the wonderful things Esperanto has shown to the world, its handling of gender is a complete mess. This is mostly due to conventions of the 19th Century (when Esperanto was created), but also by the underlying model, which is the German. In many languages, words themselves have a gender. This gender is not strictly related to function: In German, spoon, fork, and knife are masculine, feminine, and neutral respectively. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 5. Table Words

2021-10-08 7 min read Nova marco
One of the best inventions of Esperanto was the regularization of the “correlatives” into a table. Words like who, where, when are clearly related to this and that and how in some form. Esperanto puts these words into a table that makes it both easy to know what one of those words means when seeing it for the first time, and to figure out the word without learning it. Let us start with an example: “tio” means “that” as in “that thing over there. Continue reading

Nova Stilo: 7. Adverbs

2021-10-08 5 min read Nova marco
In many languages, adverbs have two very different functions that put them in conflict with each other. One function is to be an adjective to verbs, from which they originally get their name. The other is to modify entire sentences or sentence parts. You can see the difference in the sentences, “He laughed happily” vs. “Happily, he laughed.” In the first case, it’s the laughing that is happy. In the second, it’s the circumstance. Continue reading
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